Veins have one way valves to channel blood back to the heart. Varicose veins develop when the valves of the veins become damaged. This causes blood to pool in the veins, enlarging them and often making the veins just beneath the skin visible.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for varicose veins include:
Family members with varicose veins
Age: childbearing age and older
Hormonal changes, as with puberty, pregnancy, or
Pressure on the veins of the pelvis, as with pregnancy or an abdominal tumor
Working at a job that requires standing on your feet for long periods
Wearing knee-high socks or stockings with tight elastic
Previous leg injury
Veins visible through the skin, appearing enlarged, twisted, and swollen
Achy, tired, heavy feeling in the area of the varicose veins or generally in the legs, especially after standing
Burning or throbbing pain in the legs
In severe cases, skin changes below the area of the varicose veins, including:
Sores that are difficult to heal (ulcers)
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Varicose veins can be easily seen. Initial diagnosis can be done during a simple physical examination. Your doctor may also wish to order an ultrasound examination of your leg veins.
Sclerotherapy—injecting the varicose veins with a chemical to shrink the veins
Radiofrequency occlusion—collapses and seals varicose veins by using radiofrequency energy
Laser or light source therapy—laser or light source energy used to seal, collapse, and dissolve varicose veins
Surgery—banding and removing varicose veins (only for severe cases)
Avoid standing for long periods of time.
Don't wear footwear that interferes with circulation.
Rest with your legs elevated.
Wear lightweight compression stockings. Wearing these may help improve circulation in the leg veins.
If you are diagnosed with varicose veins, follow your doctor's
Varicose veins can't necessarily be completely prevented, especially if they run in your family. The following recommendations may help prevent varicose veins:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Don't wear socks or stockings with tight elastic around your legs.
Try to avoid regularly standing for long periods of time.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a